It’s a leap year and the 29th February will soon be upon us, the traditional date when ladies can propose to their men. So if you are planning on a wedding proposal to your man this year, here are 7 useful things for you need to know or think about when it comes to leap year proposals.
#1 Where does the tradition come from?
It’s argued that the leap year tradition of women proposing to men goes right back to Ireland in the 5th century and a lady called St Bridget. As legend has it, our Bridget wasn’t too happy about how long she had to wait around for a man to ask for her hand in marriage. So Bridget sought out one of the most powerful Irishman at the time, St Patrick, and explained why she was so miffed. St Patrick had some sympathy and agreed that from thenceforth all women could propose every leap year if they were fed up of waiting around. Of course, Bridget would later go on to write a diary that got turned into a film and St Patrick turned to drink as a result. Okay, those last two may not be true…but equally there’s a lot of scorn of this tale as a whole. If historical records are accurate, St Bridget was only a small child at the time St Paddy kicked the bucket.
However, what is not in doubt is that that t he first documented record of women proposing on February 29th is in 13th century Scotland, where a law was passed that decreed that any man refusing a proposal on the leap year must pay a fine – but more about this later.
2. Are you both really ready to get married?
The worst mistake you can make is simply deciding to propose just because you’re fed up of waiting around for that marriage proposal. You need to have a think about why your man hasn’t yet proposed. Is he waiting for something – maybe a promotion or to buy a house before he wants to get hitched. Remember us men can be more practically minded when it comes to love, relationships and marriage and whilst getting married may seem like the most romantic and natural thing for you to do, he may see it in a different way.
So have you ever talked about getting married? Or spending your life together? Or having children? If you don’t live together currently, have you both talked about getting a home together? If you answer positively to any of these, then you may both be at that stage to get married.
But ultimately only you will know your reasons for wanting to get married and what his likely reaction is going to be. So think hard and long about it and, if after that, you’re still determined to proposes…
3. Where should you propose?
The big consideration here is whether you make the proposal quietly at home, discreetly in a public place (over a meal at a restaurant, for example) or make a big show of it with banners, balloons and DJ announcements. This will come down to how you are as individuals and a couple. Of course, there are some practical considerations like noise and unwanted attention you’ll also wish to consider but at the end, do it you way. After all, it’s a moment you will always remember so make sure it’s a fond memory in years to come!
4. How should you propose?
The best advice is to keep it simple but fun, sweet and unforgettable. You’re going to be nervous, he’s likely going to be surprised – so its best done in a way that’s easy for both of you. As a wedding photographer I’ve heard of all kinds of ways that couples have proposed to one another (including in the heat of a domestic argument!) but without doubt, the majority do it in a fun, understated way. Just be yourself and in a moment that feels natural.
5. What if he says no?
Even if you followed everything up to this point, there’s still a chance he could say “no”. Nothing is every guaranteed or certain – so at least prepare yourself in advance, in case he says no. Most importantly, don’t panic or take it personally. There may be practical reasons, rather than it being a comment on his love for you…so now’s not the time for emotional outbursts. It’s best to take some time and then calmly discuss the reasons. He could simply think you can’t afford it at this time. Or perhaps, he just wants to wait a little longer. Or he may just want to be the one proposing.
However, once you have both talked it through and it becomes clear he doesn’t see his future with you, take it as a positive. At least you have found out and can move on. Nothing is ever a mistake if you learn something from it!
6. Other traditions linked to leap year proposals
Did you know that if you get married during a leap year in Greece it’s considered unlucky? Or that Queen Margaret allegedly enacted a law in Scotland in 1288 allowing women to propose on 29th February but they had wear a red petticoat to warn her beloved that she was planning to pop the question! And talking of Scotland, remember those Scotsmen in point 1 above who had to pay a fine if they said no to a leap year proposal. Well, one of the fines they were liable for, were pairs of gloves which conceal the lady’s ring finger and save her blushes!
7. Get a pre-wedding engagement shoot to document the event.
Don’t forget that if he does say yes and you start arranging your wedding, then I’d love to be your wedding photographer. I offer all my wedding couples an optional pre-wedding portrait shoot and if you are a leap year proposal, we could incorporate some of the traditions like red petticoats and gloves into a fun and informal shoot. It would be a fantastic way for you to get some lovely shots from the kind of engagement shoot that can only ever happen once every 4 years.
So if you are interested in hiring me as your wedding photographer then I’d love to hear all about your plans. Please give a call on 07920 422144 or send me a message via my contact page.
And if you are proposing this 29th February…GOOD LUCK!